We are excited to announce our commissioned artists for MINDSCAPES.

MINDSCAPES is a collaboration between cultural institutions in Manchester and The Netherlands which challenges artists to explore the ways in which our surroundings can be a cause of social alienation, anxiety and depression, but also, how we can find solace and support in the world around us.

A groundbreaking new public-facing arts project – beginning in March 2021 – will see artists from The Netherlands and Manchester come together both online and in local communities to create challenging artistic responses to issues around mental health in our cities.

A two-year cultural cooperation programme funded by DutchCulture in partnership with the Dutch Embassy in the UK, MINDSCAPES will create five new projects spanning performance, visual and digital arts stimulating dialogue, knowledge-sharing and network-building between organisations from across a wide range of sectors in Manchester and the Netherlands.

Projects will be showcased in April 2021 and include an exploration of mental health in neighbourhoods across Greater Manchester by artist Jan Rothuizen whose work will be seen across the city’s Metrolink network. Amsterdam-based youth theatre group Theater DEGASTEN will work with young people growing up in care in Greater Manchester and the Netherlands. Rotterdam-based Merel Smitt will create a new online project that explores the impact that the benefits system has on people’s mental health. Poets Elten Kiene and Sjaan Flikweert will work with Manchester-based poetry charity Young Identity and migrant communities in North Manchester to create new poems that reflect their sense of place in the community. Composer and music producer Yonatan Collier will work with Manchester-based Brighter Sound and artists and musicians from North Manchester to create a soundscape, reflecting and shaping people’s emotional experiences in Moston and Harpurhey.

The aim of MINDSCAPES is to foster a unique space for cross-sectoral thinking and reflection, where a range of perspectives from the Greater Manchester and Netherlands can come together and consider the most effective ways to deploy cultural activity for a social benefit.


Yoni Collier is a sound musician, performer, composer and producer. He has been signed to numerous independent and major labels. A former member of Heads We Dance, Deuce & Charger and Lone Wolf, he has performed at venues and festivals across the UK and Europe. His music has featured on many TV shows and films. He is currently working towards a practice-based PhD, examining how location based recording, musical performance and production can be used as tools for examining artistic practice, landscape and history.

Yonatan will be working with Manchester-based Brighter Sound


Sjaan is an interdisciplinary artist whose work combines poetry, performance, video and installations. Her work places centre stage the things that are usually pushed to the edges and cast out. Her work is raw, honest and very physical. She is published in 2019 in the anthology “Hard op” and in 2020 published a poetry book called “ergens thuis en de ruimte ertussen”. She is currently working on two audiovisual poetry videos’, creating two plays for children and working on an installation as well as freelance writing and performing. 

Sjaan will be working with Manchester-based Young Identity


Elten Kiene is a writer and performer from The Netherlands. He has performed numerous times on numerous stages throughout the Netherlands. Elten Kiene is a salesman who deals in words and language. He is also one of the hardest working men in Dutch literature and spoken word. If he’s not performing himself, he is active in organisations such as Woorden worden zinnen or Next Generation Speaks. His work can be defined by his social awareness,  already the case when he was part of hip hop group Brandwerk. Nowadays, Elten is also a teacher in a youth penitentiary. Elten believes that words and personal expression might be the most powerful weapons a person can possess.

Elten will be working with Manchester-based Young Identity


Theater DEGASTEN are an Amsterdam based youth theatre group, creating raw, physical montage theatre with youngsters aged between 12-25 years. The shows are based on the experience of the young actors and expose topical issues. DEGASTEN explore the voices of young people in theatre. They are not afraid of confrontation. Diversity runs in the company’s veins, influencing the style of the work, the composition of the staff team, the youngsters they work with and the audience. The stories they present and the way they work are diverse because DEGASTEN believe that everyone has the right to connect with art and culture, as a participant or as an audience member.


Merel Smitt is an artist based in Rotterdam. She builds immersive installations and creates interventions in the public space that interfere with our daily lives. Her work is research based and site-specific. Knowingly and unknowingly, the audience are always active contributors to her work. She collaborates with performers, graphic designers and web designers, discovering distinctive perspectives by speaking with communities, philosophers, activists, government and social workers, companies and experts.


Jan Rothuizen is a visual artist whose work layers detailed observation of the physical environment with deep research into the personal experiences and perspectives of the people who live there. Combining drawing with text, his works have been translated into English, Spanish and Chinese. Projects have been presented in the contexts of film festivals, museums and galleries. He made the inter-active award-winning documentary Refugee Republic about a refugee camp in Iraq and the VR animated film Drawing Room.

Helen Medland, CEO and Artistic Director of SICK! Festival:

“MINDSCAPES will take a bold look at our city, working in and around local communities and artists to understand and inform debate around the power of environment to shape us and our mental wellbeing. From the use of green spaces and urban gentrification to the role of architecture and even our interaction with the benefits system, our programs will take a magnifying glass to the issues that affect our sense of self, our mental health and our place within society.

“Our interaction with physical spaces – whether in our homes, private or public spaces – has been dramatically altered by Coronavirus. We believe that now is a really important time to look again at the ways in which the physical spaces, confinements and institutions in our cities shape and affect our mental health.

“We are grateful to be funded by DutchCulture in partnership with the Dutch Embassy and look forward to delivering a programme that will have a profound effect on the communities and partners involved.” In addition MINDSCAPES will include a series of events and panels under the MINDSCAPES UN-Conference banner aimed at health practitioners, academics, community workers, activists and anyone with a keen interest in exploring mental health in the urban environment. Further details to be announced.

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